Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Good walk

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Now that I am walking longer and faster, the training effect has really taken hold. Today:

3.07 miles
52 minutes 10 seconds
3.54 mph
110 steps/minute
33″ stride (average)
5765 steps

My daily goal is 6000 steps, and 6000 steps in the walk alone would be nice, so I might after a while extend the length of the walk another quarter-mile or so. Or maybe extend the time, so that I do a 1-hour walk. It’s gotten pleasant now: good weather for walking, and I am fit enough now so that the walk is not a strain.

I do use Nordic walking poles, of course, which makes the walk more enjoyable and also a better exercise (since it becomes a full-body exercise, with the arms, shoulders, and upper back involved — plus using the poles improves my walking posture. The map and tracking info is from my Amazfit GTS 4 Mini.

Written by Leisureguy

29 September 2022 at 3:01 pm

The importance of duration in cardio/aerobic exercise

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I have learned (and blogged) that the key to a fitness program is purely consistency. If I walk daily, I will gradually increase both speed (important, as noted in this post) and duration, just because I have more energy and feel like it. 

I just remembered why duration is important. Ken Cooper MD talks in his book Aerobics about the training effect, which results in improved lung capacity, stronger diaphragm, stronger heart, greater volume of blood, increased density of the capillary network, and so on — all the systems that support the effort increase in strength and capacity.

He found that the training effect did not really kick until (a) your heart rate reaches the aerobic, and (b) you maintain that rate for about 15 minutes. At that point, the training effect starts to occur.

This means that going for a walk in which you get 15 minutes of aerobic exercise doesn’t do much good. And that is probably why my fitness seems to have started improving more rapidly when I went from a 26-minute walk (11 minutes of training effect) to a 36-minute walk (21 minutes of training effect) to (for the past two days) a 46-minute walk (31 minutes of training effect).

At any rate, I find that I am less tired now, after my 46 minute walk, than I was after my 26-minute walks. (Of course, I have now been training longer.)

But again: speed and duration come naturally so long as one walks consistently, which I take to be 6 days a week. (Cooper also emphasized the importance of at least one day off each week — his recommendation is to do aerobic exercise at least 4, and at most 6, days a week.)

Here is the patter of my exercise for this year (left chart) and this month (right chart).

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2022 at 1:09 pm

Speeding Up Your Daily Walk Could Have Big Benefits

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Rachel Fairbank has an interesting article (gift link, no paywall) in the NY Times on the benefits of walking briskly vs. slowly. Let me preface her article with an observation regarding today’s walk.

Duration suggested in article: 30 minutes per day
Today’s walk: 46 min 48 sec

Brisk walk as defined in article: 80-100 steps per minute
Today’s walk: 110 steps per minute (That’s what I aim for in general.)

I also have seen a brisk walk defined as 3 mph or faster; today’s walk was 3.47 mph (or, to a single decimal place, 3.5 mph). Moreover, today’s walk was with Nordic walking poles, which provides a 20% increase in benefits over regular walking (without Nordic walking poles).

Today’s walk graphically:

With my new Amazfit GTS 4 Mini, the heart rate readings make much more sense, even in the distribution among the heart-rate zones. (PAI for today was 14 points.)

Fairbanks’s article begins:

Many of us regularly wear an activity tracker, which counts the number of steps we take in a day. Based on these numbers, it can be hard to make sense of what they might mean for our overall health. Is it just the overall number of steps in a day that matter, or does exercise intensity, such as going for a brisk walk or jog, make a difference?

In a new study, which looks at activity tracker data from 78,500 people, walking at a brisk pace for about 30 minutes a day led to a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, dementia and death, compared with walking a similar number of steps but at a slower pace. These results were recently published in two papers in the journals JAMA Internal Medicine and JAMA Neurology.

For these studies, which included participants from UK Biobank, participants with an average age of 61 agreed to wear activity trackers for seven full days, including nights, at the beginning of the trial. This study represents the largest one to date that incorporates activity tracker data.

“Activity tracker data is going to be better than self-reported data,” said Dr. Michael Fredericson, a sports physician at Stanford University, who was not involved in the study. “We know that people’s ability to self-report is flawed,” often because people don’t accurately remember how much exercise they did in a day or week.

After collecting these data, researchers then tracked participant’s health outcomes, which included whether they developed heart disease, cancer, dementia or died during a period of six to eight years.

Researchers found that every 2,000 additional steps a day lowered the risk of premature death, heart disease and cancer by about 10 percent, up to about 10,000 steps per day. When it came to developing dementia, 9,800 steps per day was associated with a 50 percent reduced risk, with a risk reduction of 25 percent starting at about 3,800 steps per day. Above 10,000 steps a day, there just weren’t enough participants with that level of activity to determine whether there were additional benefits.

In the past, . . .

Continue reading. (gift link, no paywall) 

 

Written by Leisureguy

23 September 2022 at 4:15 pm

Nordic walking makes a big difference after just 3 weeks

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This post will be of particular interest to readers who have type 2 diabetes or know someone who has it. At right are what my Contour app shows after this morning’s fasting blood glucose reading. Just before I resumed daily Nordic walking on September 1, the averages were 6.2 right down the line: 7-day, 14-day, 30-day, and 90-day. 

The benefits of exercise — particularly aerobic/cardio exercise — in reducing fasting blood glucose levels cannot be denied, but I should also point out that I follow a whole-food plant-based diet and that I stop eating at 5:00pm. Absolutely no food goes into my mouth (i.e., not a bite or even a taste) after 5:00, though I do drink iced tea (hibiscus + white tea) in the evening. I also have cut out eating between meals during the day, and I think that helps as well. This abstaining from food part of the day is a version of intermittent fasting

Fasting after 5:00 make a big difference. I have found, for example, that if I have a snack at 8:00pm, that definitely raises my morning blood glucose reading.

The figures shown are in mmol/L, the usual measure, though the US uses mg/dL. To convert from mmol//L to mg/dL, multiply by 18.018. Thus 6.1 mmol/L = 110 mg/dL, and 5.7 mmol/L = 103 mg/dL. (My former average of 6.2 mmol/L is 112 mg/dL.)

I’d like to get my average down to 5.5 mmol/L (99 mg/dL). Maybe…

Written by Leisureguy

23 September 2022 at 7:28 am

My take on the Amazfit GTS 4 Mini

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I finally decided to replace my Amazfit Band 5 because it was unreliable in measuring heart rate, which it used to compute the PAI score for a workout. So I ordered what I believe is the most recent model, the Amazfit 4. It comes as either GTS 4 or GTR 4 and I pored over the specs to find the difference — until I finally realized “S” = square and “R” = round. Since I like a digital readout, the GTS 4 seemed the better choice (see photo, which illustrates the particular watch face I use). The GTS 4 comes in regular or “Mini,” and I went with Mini: cheaper and a little lighter and does all I could want. 

I love it. The readout is much more legible to my (somewhat poor) eyes, and because it is bigger, the battery also can be bigger, so much better battery life. And the heart-rate readout so far seems totally reasonable and reliable — as in fact the Band 5 readout become once I moved the band a little up my arm: two finger-widths above the wrist instead of one. But by the time I discovered that, I had already ordered the replacement, and I like the GTS 4 Mini a lot better.

I did try a Huawei Watch Fit 2, but I did not like that and returned it. I really like the Zepp app on my iPhone that connects with the Amazfit products.

I’ve done my walk for today, and getting good PAI results is motivating. I’ll stick with 2.0 miles for another week, and then I’m going to bump it up to 2.5 miles to get my step goal (6000 steps).

Written by Leisureguy

22 September 2022 at 12:52 pm

Walking progress — and Amazfit Band 5 discovery

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I would like to get my average speed back to where it was before the break: 3.5 mph. I’m getting there. 

The big discovery is how to get the Amazfit Band 5 to take more accurate readings of my heart rate. The original instructions said to place the Band 5 one finger-width above the wrist. That is the position where I got erratic readings. 

I got a note from Amazfit support that said to place the Band 5 two finger-widths above the wrist, and that is what I did today. Today my walk rate 37 PAI. Yesterday essentially the same walk (though 1.5 minutes slower) was 4 PAI.

Written by Leisureguy

20 September 2022 at 2:16 pm

New distance

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I’ve continued to walk, each day making a walk my main priority, and after reading an NPR report, I also go out after a meal for just a short walk.

I take my “real” walk after lunch (which I usually have around 1:00-1:30pm), and at the right you can see today’s after-lunch walk. (Click image to enlarge.)

This is my first 2-mile walk as I regain fitness after the layoff, so I thought it was worth a mention. Speed is still not yet up to 3.5mph, but that will come if I stick with a daily walk.

I’ll stick to the 2-mile distance for a couple of weeks before pushing it farther — that is, if I do go for more distance. 

It’s good to start to feel fitter for the walks. The daily walk is the key.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2022 at 3:47 pm

Restricted airways, scarred lung tissue found among vapers

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I confess I never understood the appeal of vaping, and an article in the Harvard Gazette by Diego Cervo makes their use downright repulsive. He writes:

Chronic use of e-cigarettes, commonly known as vaping, can result in small airway obstruction and asthma-like symptoms, according to researchers at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

In the first study to microscopically evaluate the pulmonary tissue of e-cigarette users for chronic disease, the team found in a small sample of patients fibrosis and damage in the small airways, similar to the chemical inhalation damage to the lungs typically seen in soldiers returning from overseas conflicts who had inhaled mustard or similar types of noxious gases. The study was published in New England Journal of Medicine Evidence.

“All four individuals we studied had injury localized to the same anatomic location within the lung, manifesting as small airway-centered fibrosis with constrictive bronchiolitis, which was attributed to vaping after thorough clinical evaluations excluded other possible causes,” says lead author Lida Hariri, an associate professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School and a pathologist and physician investigator at MGH. “We also observed that when patients ceased vaping, they had a partial reversal of the condition over one to four years, though not complete due to residual scarring in the lung tissue.”

A huge increase in vaping, particularly among young adults and adolescents, has occurred in the United States, with studies showing about 9 percent of the population and nearly 28 percent of high school students are e-cigarette users. Unlike cigarette smoking, however, the long-term health risks of chronic vaping are largely unknown.

In order to determine the underlying pathophysiology of vaping-related symptoms, the MGH team examined a cohort of four patients, each with a three- to eight-year history of e-cigarette use and chronic lung disease. All patients underwent . . .

Continue reading.

It is not totally surprising that drawing smoke or chemical vapor deep into your lungs is not a good idea.

Written by Leisureguy

14 September 2022 at 10:29 am

Walk note

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I resumed regular walking on September 1, so today makes 9 days, and along the way I had my insight on the importance of a focus on simply taking the walk, letting speed and duration do what they want. Day 1 my speed was3.12 mph; today, 3.36 mph. Still not at the 3.5 I was getting before my enforced break, but I am confident that if I persist, speed will improve. And I think after another week I might extend the distance a bit.

More impressive than my speed improvement is the change in my fasting blood glucose. When I started, by averages were 6.2 mmol/L (112 mg/dL) throughout: 7-day, 14-day, 30-day, and 90-day. As you can see at the right, the averages are dropping. The 7-day average, 5.7 mmol/L, is equal to 103 mg/dL. 

I expect that, if I continue walking and stick to my regular whole-food plant-based diet, the 7-day average will drop some more.

Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2022 at 1:57 pm

Nordic walking effects on my fasting blood-glucose levels

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I resumed Nordic walking on 1 September (with a distance of 1.5 miles), so I have walked for 5 days. (Today’s walk will come later.) When I started, I took a screenshot of my fasting blood-glucose averages as of that day (photo at left). The figures shown are, as indicated, in mmol/L — 6.2 mmol/L, or 112 mg/dL, the latter being the common unit of measure used in the US. 

I have been following a whole-food plant-based diet, a diet that has been repeatedly demonstrated to be a healthful diet and one that is particularly helpful for treating — reversing and even curing — chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes. (See How Not To Die, by Michael Greger MD for more detailed information — that’s the book that got me started on my diet.)

But I had stopped exercising. I was interrupted by surgery (to install a pacemaker), which required me to take it easy for six weeks, particularly with my arms (so definitely no Nordic walking). However, on 1 September I received the FutureMe letter I had mailed a year ago, and I decided to tighten up on all fronts (details in this post).

For diet, that mainly meant absolutely no food after 5:00pm. (I had been having the occasional small snack — a few walnuts, for example, or a couple of Medjool dates, or a small portion of my Big Red One fermented vegetables.) I also started eating smaller portions and totally quit eating between meals. (I’ve lost 2.8 lbs since 1 September, but that’s a side effect, not the goal. My focus and goal is to adhere closely to a good WFPB diet with no eating between meals or after 5:00pm.)

And one big change I made on 1 September was to resume Nordic walking. I had the insight (discussed in this post) that the walk’s duration and speed were secondary — that I did not need to concern myself about those but could let them take care of themselves. My focus and primary concern was consistency — that I walk every day. 

If I walked daily, I would (without conscious effort) find myself walking faster and longer as I became fitter. I would not have to push myself to do that because I would gradually increase speed and distance because I was enjoying the walkMy conscious priority was simply to walk every day — the only “pushing” I did was to push myself out the door each day and start walking.

In fact, it’s been surprisingly easy. Once I was telling myself, “Today’s main priority is to take a walk,” I got to it and did the walk. Already I notice that the walks are e.getting easier and, without trying, I’m walking a little faster — 3.12 mph on 1 Sept, 3.31 mph on 5 Sept (yesterday) .On today’s walk, I could try to improve on that speed, but I won’t try. My focus is taking the walk and letting the speed take care of itself. I’ll walk as fast as I feel like walking. If my speed improves, well and good. If it doesn’t, that also is fine. The key is to take the walk.

Adhering to my diet and walking every day is benefiting my fasting blood-glucose levels. At the right you see my new average readings as of today. The average of the past 7 days is 5.7 mmol/L (103 mg/dL) — and this morning’s reading was 5.4 mmol/L (97 mg/dL), and that’s in the normal range. 

This is not exactly unexpected — lifestyle changes (such as quitting smoking, quitting alcohol, adopting a whole-food plant-based diet (or at least eating meat, fish, and dairy rarely and highly processed foods not at all), and exercising regularly are recommended precisely because they improve one’s health. That’s the whole point of the book How Not To Die, whose recommendations are solidly backed by research results (from studies identified in the books endnotes).

Still, I am pleased to see such rapid improvement — it’s not been even a week — and enormously pleased by the 5.4 mmol/L reading this morning.

Written by Leisureguy

6 September 2022 at 11:28 am

Made it — by the skin of my teeth

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Despite a brisk walk (3.25 mph) for 27 minutes, I go only 3 PAI for the walk. So I walked to the supermarket and did chores around the house and finally got the total to 100 PAI. 

But it’s clear that the Amazfit is simply not picking up heart rate accurately. For example, although the graph at the right shows that I not pulse at all for about an hour, that is not in fact what happened. — update: The source of the problem seems to have been placement of the Band 5 on my arm. Original documentation said to place it one finger-width above the wrist, but a support person said that should be two finger-widths. Once I did that, I got accurate readings.

But I’ve had a paradigm shift, so that my focus is no longer on PAI but on consistency of effort. If I walk daily, I’m happy with that. And in fact, I am already finding it easier — and it will be even easier tomorrow because I replaced the paws on my Nordic walking poles. 

So tomorrow’s priority: take a walk. 

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2022 at 6:52 pm

Walk realization

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Way back when, in my post on Nordic walking, I noted this:

In the course of a month of Nordic walking, I found I had gradually increased the walk duration to just over an hour—about 8000 steps, 4.1 miles—simply because I enjoyed it so much. (My plan originally was to walk for 30 minutes, but now I really enjoy the longer walk.)

In “A Scandal in Bohemia,” Sherlock Holmes says to Dr. Watson, “You see, but you do not observe.” Like Dr. Watson, I also saw but did not observe. That is, I failed to draw the obvious conclusion from what I saw (and experienced). I have now added to that post:

I recently realized that I had happened upon something significant in that paragraph above, but it didn’t sink in to the point that I explicitly recognized it. It is this: Focus on consistency (walking every day), and let speed and duration take care of themselves — you don’t need to think about them because they will improve on their own, so long as you are consistent in walking every day.

To achieve consistency, I found the idea of “priority” useful. In the evening, when I think about what’s on my plate for the next day, I say to myself, “Well, my main priority is to take a walk.” And each morning when I awaken, I think “Today’s priority is to take a walk.”

I don’t worry about how fast or how long I walk, but focus solely on making sure that I do take a walk. If I walk every day, then as my strength and my fitness improve, I will gradually find myself walking longer and faster because I feel like it, not because it’s a goal. The only goal is to go for a walk each day. That is the priority.

Written by Leisureguy

3 September 2022 at 8:23 pm

Another day, another walk

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I’ll take a break from posting my walk data — I imagine they are of interest mostly to me — but I thought that I would post today’s because that’s three days in a row, enough to suggest (though not establish) a new habit — or, as in this case, a renewed habit. Perhaps renewing a habit requires fewer repetitions than establishing a habit.

Speed is down slightly, as are the total PAI points, but still I did well — 25 PAI points today, for a current cumulative total of 95, close to the minimum of 100 PAI that I should maintain. (The 100 point minimum is for the cumulative seven-day total (current day and previous six days). That is, it’s not 100 PAI points a day.) I’ll easily achieve the minimum tomorrow, and then the goal is to keep it at 100 for 90 days. I was almost at 90 days when I had to stop last time, so I hope I can get the 90 days this time. 

Yesterday for some reason I got only 4 PAI for the walk. That was due to the Amazfit not picking up heart rate accurately. But 25 PAI today seems good, and day before yesterday I got 45 PAI — first time out and the Amazfit was working, so I got a lot of VO2 Max.

Note that the heart rate today looks totally reasonable. The dip occurred when I was traversing a section that is downhill for a while, so that makes sense. That’s a nice distribution of Intensive, aerobic, anaerobic, and VO2 Max, the last of which brings in lots of PAI points. 

The impetus to begin again was that FutureMe letter from a year ago. I really like that service.

Written by Leisureguy

3 September 2022 at 2:18 pm

Today’s walk: a little faster, a little longer

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The longer distance is because I took out the trash and so started the walk from the dumpster out back instead of in front of the building. The speed, however, is a nice improvement: 3.12 mph yesterday, 3.26 today. I happened to notice my stride length: 32″. Normally it’s 30″. I imagine the additional 2″ is due to the push from the Nordic walking poles. 

I’m still somewhat skeptical of the heart-rate readings, but I do trust the distance and time and thus the speed. I’m sure the exercise is beneficial (even though today I got only 4 PAI points).

Written by Leisureguy

2 September 2022 at 4:18 pm

FutureMe and future walks

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Photo taken today by The Wife, across the street from her apartment.

Today I received my first-of-the-month FutureMe email from one year ago — 9/1/2021 — in which I commented on a FutureMe email from 9/1/2020 that I had just received back then. I am always interested to read these letters from the past, since often I’ve forgotten various aspects, but I was especially interested in this one because of three goals it mentioned.

A year ago, I set goals in three areas:

  1. Diet and weight — in 2020, I learned from the 9/1/2021 letter, I had drifted somewhat from my whole-food plant-based diet, but by 9/1/2021 I had found my footing again, and my goal was to maintain my WFPB diet and also lose some weight. 
  2. Finance — I was still working out how to handle money in retirement. I wasn’t doing bad, but it was clear there was room for improvement. My goal was to improve.
  3. Exercise — a year ago I was getting regular exercise through Nordic walking, and I was optimistic about maintaining that and set a goal to keep going.

Diet and weight

I would say that I have pretty much gotten diet completely sorted. As I have noted, I now build balanced whole-food plant-based meals without really having to think about it. I now know, as one knows a language, my diet and its foods. That is, as when I speak or write, I can focus on the thought I want to express without having to think at all about how to express it, because words, sentences, and structure are immediately available without conscious effort (very unlike when first learning a new language, when much conscious effort is required to express a thought). 

For example, I recently put together a good meal without really thinking about it, and only later added notes to show how the ingredients fit the Daily Dozen template.

Weight, on the other hand, has remained largely unchanged. I haven’t gained over the year, but also haven’t lost. On 1 September 2021, I weighed 191.3 (lbs, not kg). Today, 192.8. My goal is 180.0 — oh, hell: 179.0. And I have made some progress in things that will help — for example, I now rarely eat anything after 5:00pm. But obviously I am still eating too much. (I’m thinking about the big salad I had last night.) 

So the goal for the coming year is to continue the whole-food plant-based approach, cut back somewhat on quantity, and reach 179.0 lbs. 

Finance

I’m a man of modest means, but I finally did — at long last — figure out how to handle money. I’m not talking investments, I’m talking just ordinary daily finance, based on a paycheck (or in my case a Social Security check plus a tiny monthly pension check) — the kind of money management typical of regular employees.

In looking at my 1 September letters from 2020 and 2021, I can see that I was making progress, and that I had the good sense to view setbacks as practice — experiences from which I could learn and thus improve my performance — and not as failures.

And it worked: I did learn and improve. I feel financially confident now, and I have the pleasant sensation that I know what I’m doing, that I now understand how it works. I can see in the worksheet records I use as I plan and track my spending that I’ve steadily improved over the past two years. That’s a good feeling.

I should note that being a Canadian resident has helped. When I abruptly had to get to the hospital and have a pacemaker installed (see this post), it was disruptive (and broke my exercise habit — see next section), but it had zero effect on my finances. Moreover, I did not have to participate in a lengthy and frustrating financial struggle with the insurance company, the hospital, and the surgeon. Indeed, there was no financial struggle at all because no money was involved.

I saw my doctor, he sent me to the hospital, I stayed in the hospital for a day before and a day after the surgical team did their work, and I came home with a new pacemaker. I did not have to stop by the billing office or talk to anyone about money, nor did I have to pay a penny. (Well, strictly speaking, that’s not true: my wife had to pay $3.50 for parking the day she picked me up.)

I also don’t have to pay for the every-six-weeks checkup at the pacemaker clinic (nor for the remote monitor they gave me so the the clinic can keep an eye on my heart activity day to day). 

As I recall, it’s not like that in the US. To be fair, the US does not want it to be like that — at least not the powerful part of the US that makes a great deal of money from the way things are done in the US now.

Exercise

The 9/1/2021 letter shows that I was doing very well with my exercise. And in fact I continued a good exercise regimen until a couple of days before I learned I needed a pacemaker. I had taken a walk just around the block and had had to stop twice to rest. Obviously, something was wrong, and the doctor visit two days later determined what it was, and the problem was fixed.

However, for six weeks following the surgery, I had to be very careful in using my arms, and that layoff broke my exercise habit. 

Today, however, that FutureMe letter written a year ago, when I was doing so well on exercise, made me realize (a) I had to resume the habit of regular exercise, and (b) I could do that because, as that letter showed, I had been there before.

Reading how well I had been doing was highly motivating, and so today I set out on a walk that I intend to be the first of a lengthy sequence of daily walks. Because I see this as a long-term effort, I did not push myself — no trying for 3.5mph, quite satisfied with 3.1mph. (A “brisk” pace starts at 3.0mph, and a brisk pace, with sufficient duration, provides cardio benefits. So 3.1mph is fine.)

Since my surgery, I’ve taken a couple of walks with my Nordic walking poles, but during those my heart rate stubbornly stayed within the Aerobic range, which doesn’t garner much in the way of PAI points — around 4 or 6 points for each walk. To get a good number of points, the heart rate must reach the range of VO2 Max (or at least Anaerobic).

I didn’t know whether my heart was just more efficient post-surgery, or whether the pacemaker capped my heart rate. So I decided not to worry about it and just resume walking, which in any case would be good.

But — lo! Also, behold! — the low heart rate may have been an artefact of my Amazfit Band 5. Here are screen shots for today’s walk (2906 steps):

That abrupt jump in heart rate at 9 min 36 seconds seems clearly to be something in the watch, not something in me. I just walked steadily for the entire walk and didn’t notice any particular change in breathing (though I was breathing more deeply) or heart rate. It seemed like an easy walk to me, with no real stress. But today I got 45 PAI (!). When one’s heart rate is in the VO2 Max range, PAI points accumulate rapidly.

I plan to continue this 1.5-mile route for a week or two before I try my 2-mile route. I may remain at 2 miles for a while. My prime objective is consistency. Speed and duration will emerge as a by-product pf consistency.


.
So overall, things are looking up. And those FutureMe letters do have an effect. Give it a try sometime.

Written by Leisureguy

1 September 2022 at 6:59 pm

Amazing Bicycle Cars – Human Powered Vehicles

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Written by Leisureguy

15 August 2022 at 2:24 pm

Walkies today

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I walked yesterday, starting again after the pacemaker. (I did take one short walk as soon as the six weeks’ wait was up, but did not persist.) Yesterday’s walk was 1.48 miles, but today I started not at the front of the building but beside the building at the back of the lot, after I tossed the trash into the dumpster. And yesterday’s walk was slower — 3.35 mph instead of 3.50 mph.

Despite a brisk pack and the uphill start, my heart rate stayed almost completely in the aerobic zone. I didn’t even get close to VO2 Max range. BP (Before Pcemaker) I routinely did most of my walk in that range (and I was, of course, using Nordic walking poles).

I don’t know whether the pacemaker caps my heart rate, or whether having the pacemaker makes my heart more efficient so that it doesn’t have to pump so much. In any event, I think the VO2 Max days are over, and with them the 35 or so PAI days. Yesterday I got 5 PAI, today 6. I don’t really see getting to a cumulative 100 in a week anytime soon.

OTOH, I got 27 minutes of exercise, almost all of it at an aerobic heart rate, and according to Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the training effect kicks in after 15 minutes of aerobic exercise — increasing lung capacity, strengthening the heart to pump more blood on demand, expanding the capillary network to deliver more oxygen to muscles, increasing the volume of blood in the body, strengthening muscles in the legs and back and (for Nordic walkers) arms and shoulders, etc. That’s good enough for me.

Written by Leisureguy

13 August 2022 at 2:32 pm

100 Ways to Live to 100: A Definitive Guide to Longevity Fitness

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I have the food part pretty well in hand. Interesting list to browse. Tanner Garrity writes at Inside Hook:

At this point, we’re all familiar with the trope. A local news station visits a retirement home to celebrate Muriel’s 106th birthday. She’s deaf or blind or both or neither, sitting in a wheelchair in the “good spot” next to the TV set, and a reporter asks her her secret. You’ve lived through both World Wars?! How’d you do it? Then Muriel gets to flash a mischievous grin and tells us she smoked a pack a day for 50 years.

Interacting with centenarians in this way has long made them seem like circus oddities. It trivializes the concept of lifespan and longevity, reducing the science to a throw-your-hands-in-the-hair “Who the hell knows!” It reinforces the idea that our time on this planet isn’t necessarily under our control. If my dad had a stroke and his dad had a stroke then one’s probably coming for me too, right? If I make it to 80, or — god forbid — 90, I’ve just beaten the odds. Right?

Not exactly. Since the mid-1990s, in fact, following the infamous Danish twins study, researchers have understood longevity to be “only moderately heritable.” For a while, this spawned estimates that genetics accounted for somewhere between 20 and 30% of one’s longevity. More recently, scientists have concluded that the true heritability of human longevity at birth is closer to just 7%.

Where does that other 93% come from? Your lifestyle. Your decisions. Your everyday habits, big and small. It’s possible to put years on your life, to surge past both average life expectancy and your own expectations, by resolving to live a certain way. The crazy part? This doesn’t involve some complex Ponce de Leónian quest. You don’t even have to search far and wide for the answers.

Thanks to the efforts of vanguard sociologists, geneticists and historians, we know where the world’s largest concentration of centenarians live and how they spend their days. (They’re called Blue Zones, and the way people cook, move and even happy hour in them is truly revelatory.) We also know, courtesy of a renowned doctor with whom we spoke last year, that certain behaviors can decelerate cellular aging and push the human lifespan into hitherto uncharted territories, and also that we should probably stop eating hot dogs.

You might wonder: Why would I want to live longer? Doesn’t the end of life look drawn out, expensive and horrible? Why would I sign up for decades of suffering? Well, the latest wave of longevity research isn’t focused on living years for the sake of years. It’s concerned with quality years.

Think about it. More years to travel, to exercise, to spend time with your family and whatever new family comes along. An entire life of creativity and challenges to enjoy after retirement. And consider this: those who make it to 100 are no more likely to die at 108 years old than 103. Genetics do start to factor in a bit more once you get way up there in age (hence how the Muriels of the world make it to 106), but overall, your risk of dying from any of the usual diseases plateaus. Longevity wizards only really suffer in the last couple years of their lives.

Take note — this movement is going to happen, with or without you. With an assist from modern medical care, scientists project there will be 25 million centenarians scattered across the world by 2100. (There are currently just 573,000.) But you don’t need to wait for Benjamin Button patents from the big pharmaceuticals. You can start living in the name of longevity today.

Below, 100 ways to live to 100, broken down by how you optimize your lifespan through diet, fitness, good choices and some truly wild wild cards. Before diving in, understand that you can’t do all of them; some of them are likely even incompatible. But the idea is to cherrypick those that work for your life. Ultimately, if nothing else, know this: making the call right now to act in the name of longevity — whether your “right now” is 35 or 65 — won’t just add life to your ledger. It’ll enrich and lighten every year along the way.

DIETARY DECISIONS

1. Eat fresh ingredients grown nearby

The planet’s longest-living communities all have access to food from farms and orchards down the road — that’s to say, within a 10-mile radius of their homes. These ingredients aren’t treated with pesticides or pumped with preservatives; they’re their original nutrient-dense, fiber-rich selves. Sound expensive? So are late-life medical bills.

2. Eat a wide variety of vegetables

So you’ll eat carrots, beets and cucumbers and that’s it. Okay. But if you want to unlock your true longevity potential — and lower your risk of everything from cardiovascular disease to macular degeneration — you need to regularly cycle through the whole menu: cruciferous veggies, dark leafy greens, edible plant stems, roots and marrows.

3. Eat until 80% full

Hara hachi bu is a Japanese saying that translates to “Eat until you’re 80% full.” It’s an alien concept in America, where portion sizes are the biggest in the world and somehow getting larger. But finding your “slightly full” will directly reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease or stroke while giving your body more energy and less bloating in the short term.

4. Eat home-cooked family dinners

As the godfather of nouvelle cuisine, Chef Fernard Point, once famously said: “Butter! Give me butter! Always butter!” Restaurants want customers to leave happy, so they use lots of flavor — salt, sugar and fat. It all adds up. According to one study, eating out twice a day increases your chance of an early death by 95%. Cooking is your best bet.

5. Embrace complex carbohydrates

The bread aisle is a starting point for understanding the difference between foods rich in simple carbohydrates (Wonder Bread) and those rich in complex carbohydrates (100% whole-wheat breads). The latter, for instance, rocks a ton of fiber and fuels the body in a sustainable way. Seek out more complex carbs like brown rice, oats and barley.

6. Consider a plant-based diet

You don’t have to give up meat. But you should know that societies full of centenarians don’t eat very much of it. While meat dominates most American meals, it only appears in Blue Zone diets at a rate of five times a month, two ounces per serving. And when it does, it comes sourced from free-range animals that weren’t treated with hormones or antibiotics. . .

Continue reading.

Later in the list:

80. Pick up “forest bathing”

In Japan, shinrin-yoku refers to “forest bathing,” or the act of taking in nature using all of your senses. Recent studies show adults spend 93% of their time indoors, which takes a toll on mental health (“stir crazy” is scientific). But the exact opposite is true for spending time outdoors. A single forest “bath” decreases scores for depression, fatigue, anxiety.

81. Settle down near a body of water

Take a look at a map of the world’s Blue Zones. Each is concentrated along a coastline. Settling down by the sea — in a so-called “blue space” — has been linked to a 17% reduction in mortality rate. One study suggested that living within 250 meters of a seaside environment helps reduce stress levels, with the smell and sounds offering a “wonderful tonic.”

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2022 at 7:15 pm

Venturing out to walk again

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I wrote this yesterday, when I took the walk, but had a WordPress problem that prevented posting. So here it is, a day late.


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After my pacemaker was installed, I was told to wait 6 weeks before doing anything strenuous with my left arm to allow time for the wires from the pacemaker to be securely seated in scar tissue. Just as the six-week wait ended, we had a stretch of very hot weather — well, very hot for here: in the mid-80s, in Fahrenheit terms — nothing like the 3-digit temperatures that have become the summer norm in some regions, but still too hot to walk, IMO.

Today is more like it: 69ºF with clear skies and a light breeze.

I’m quite a bit slower after my layoff — back then I was walking at 3.5 mph routinely — and despite the uphill start I never got my heart rate up. I’ll try next time walking a bit more briskly at the outset and see how that works. Still, 19 minutes of aerobic effort is enough to instigate the training effect, according Kenneth Cooper MD. He found that the training effect kicked in after 15 minutes of aerobic effort. 

Little by little and bit by bit.

Written by Leisureguy

2 August 2022 at 8:14 am

6 Ways to Level Up Your Daily Walk

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Emily Pennington has an interesting article (gift link, no paywall) in the NY Times. You can read the entire article at the (gift) link, but here’s what she says about Nordic walking, the first item in her list:

Originally developed in Finland as a way to train cross-country skiers during the off-season, Nordic walkers use specially designed poles with rubber tips to grab the pavement and help engage the arms and core muscles, turning a simple walk into a full-body workout.

Trekkers who can stomach the goofiness of city walking with sticks will see, on average, a 22 percent increase in calorie expenditure and will consume 23 percent more oxygen. The more oxygen your body can consume, the more effectively it can generate energy during workouts.

Companies like Leki and Black Diamond sell various expensive, high-tech poles for would-be hikers, but proper technique is more important than the label. “Whether you use a pole with a handle and strap, or two sticks, the focus of ‘Nordic’ should really be on the fact that you’re using anything to engage your upper body,” said Kirk Shave, who trains Nordic walkers at Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat and Health Spa in British Columbia.

He said that you should hold the poles with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle and your forearms parallel to the ground. [Wrong, wrong, wrong. – LG] Next, you should use your triceps to press the pole tips into the trail behind you and push off, propelling your body forward.

“The No. 1 problem for hikers, runners, walkers is ultimately knees and ankles,” Mr. Shave explained. Taking some of the strain off the lower body by using poles while walking on flat terrain and down hills can help avoid compression issues in these joints, he added.

Serious error in that report

The information regarding having one’s elbows bent at a 90-degree angle with the forearms parallel to the ground is simply wrong, according to my experience and my instructor. That position places the poles in front of you, which works for trekking poles, where you exert pressure straight down. But when you’re using Nordic walking poles, your arms swing freely and push back, to help propel your body forward. In Nordic walking, one’s arms are straight or only slightly bent — see the two videos in this post.

Written by Leisureguy

4 July 2022 at 12:42 pm

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